Our Big Fat Indian Wedding- Part III: Sikh Wedding


Sikh Wedding was scheduled for the morning after Sangeet, and it was the last ceremony for us to attend. Because the only words that comes to my mind when I hear’ sikh’ are … turban and maharajah, I have done a small research on it:

Who are Sikhs..?

India has 28 culturally different states, more than 1600 spoken language, 9 religions and 1 billion people. Out of that- 21 milion are Sikhs.

Sikh” properly refers to followers of Sikhism as a religion, not an ethnic group. However, most Sikhs share strong ethno-religious ties, therefore many countries, such as the UK, recognize Sikh as a designated ethnicity on their censuses.

Sikhism is a panentheistic religion which originated during the 15th century in the Punjab region in Northwestern India. The term “Sikh” has its origin in the Sanskrit, meaning disciple, student or instruction.  A Sikh, according to Article I of the Sikh Rehat Maryada (the Sikh code of conduct), is “any human being who faithfully believes in One Immortal Being and Sikh holy book: Guru Granth Sahib– the teachings of the ten Gurus .

Sikhs who have undergone the khanḍe-kī-pahul (the Sikh initiation/baptism ceremony) are obligated to wear the ‘five Ks’ (panj kakaar) – 5 articles of faith.

  • Kesh: Uncut hair, usually tied and wrapped in a Dastar (turban)
  • Kanga: A wooden comb, usually worn under a Dastar(how convienien!) 😀
  • Kachera: Cotton undergarments, historically appropriate in battle due to increased mobility when compared to other traditional garment-  dhoti. Worn by both sexes, the kachera is a symbol of chastity.
  • Kara: An iron bracelet, a weapon and a symbol of eternity
  • Kirpan: An iron dagger in different sizes. In the UK Sikhs can wear a small dagger, but in the Punjab they might wear a traditional curved sword from one to three feet in length.

The symbols represent the ideals of Sikhism: honesty, equality, fidelity, meditating on God and never bowing to tyranny.

Awaiting for the bride and groom at the temple

Sikh Temple is called Gurdawara  ( “the doorway to the guru”). We were sited in reception hall on the first floor ( the actual praying room is on the 2nd floor). Awaiting for the groom and bride, we had some time to enjoy cold&re-freshening fruit juice and some -traditionally over-offered – fancy starters.

SOME people used that time to the fullest… :

::Hot Indian noon is not for everybody, especially if you were dancing to the Bollywood beat until 2am the previous night ::

::: aaand the hats are back:D: Dress-code for today- Sikh wedding outfits should be modest but brightly colored ::

::: drinks section of the amazing buffet: fresh coconuts (by the waiters) and some cold juice drinks (at the back) :::

::: Buffet getting ready for after-the-wedding lunch for the guests -no meat or alcohol is served at this event as the celebration takes place at the Sikh Temple:::

Maharajah entrance!

 ::: we could hear the loud grooms procession from afar…:::

Shikha arrived first in a boring luxurious car, whereas Aman…

::: the temple entrance and decorations :::

… had a true Maharajah entrance… !:D

Groom leaves his home to the wedding venue on a decorated white ghodi (horse) (but the more extravagant Sikh can also choose an elephant!).

All the way from his house, his family members led the way in a big procession (Baarat) with a lot of pomp, including: music, orchestra and dance.

The groom is covered in finery and do not usually take part in the dancing and singing; that is left to the baraatis or people accompanying the procession. The term baraati is also more generically used to describe any invitee from the groom’s side.

Traditionally Sikh groom must wear a beard (!), turban, sehra (headdress ) and carry a kirpan (ceremonial sword).

::: no such thing as too much gold;) :::

Along with the groom sits Sarabala – his ‘best man’, usually a younger brother, cousin or nephew, and acts as his caregiver or protector. How come a small boy is supposed to be a caregiver of a grown-up groom…?

In the old days, while the wedding procession- along with its valuables -was on the way to the bride’s village, they would be prone to robbers attacks . Therefore, the concept of Sarbala was introduced to assure the groom’s safety. Often times the groom would get killed and the Sarabala would end up marrying the bride. The tradition continues till date, without having any practical use. Whereas, during the olden days grown-up men were involved and were expected to ensure a safe baraat and wedding,  as times have changed, the Sarbalas have turned younger.  Sarabla is dressed in the same attire as the groom, which nowadays makes him look like a cute, miniature version of the groom.

::: Perfect Maharajah Look, from tip to toe- check out Aman’s shoes!:::

What is hanging in front of Aman’s face? Is this on purpose..? Surprisingly- yes! It is a traditional headdress worn by Indian grooms, called Sehra. It typically comprises a head adornment that has garlands hanging covering the groom’s face.  This decorative groom’s veil, can be made either out of flowers or beads and is tied or stitched to the groom’s turban. Sehras are a part of the rich heritage and these days it is trendy to wear ethnic accessories to give a different look.  As you can see, the lightweight beads are the latest trend (set by the Bollywood starts and their real-life wedding of course).

Wearing a Sehra adds royal splendor to the groom’s overall look and it also adds an element of mystery as his face is veiled – much like the bride’s face :D.  The other purpose of the Sehra is to protect the groom from… the evil eye.

When the baraat arrives at the wedding venue, a ceremony known as the milni (literally, meeting or merger) is carried out, in which equivalent relatives from the groom and bride’s sides greet each other. This usually begins with the two fathers, followed by the two mothers, then the siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins; even distant relatives are included in the milni, which symbolizes the unification of the two clans.

The Wedding ceremony

Upon the couple arrival, we moved the party upstairs – a proper prayer place where everybody has to take off  the shoes and cover their heads before entering. Men wear turbans, and women were using either the part of their serees or a separate shawl (dupatta).

We were seated on the carpet floor – women to the left side, men to the right. Out of all ceremonies that one was resembling our church wedding the most, with the priest behind the altar, reading from the holy book, serious religious singing and sleeeepy atmosphere…

::: another example of how crazy was the previous -Sangeet- night :::

First,  hymns (kirtan) were sung as the Shikha and Aman sat in front of the Sikh holy book – Guru Granth Sahib. The hymns ask God to keep this occasion and ceremony pure, untainted. Then the granthi (Sikh priest) performed the Anand Karaj (the central ceremony). This consists of readings from the writings of the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjun Dev.

The ceremony is conducted in four parts, each one dedicated to different religious aspect: the karma, the dharma or faith, the trust that grows out of practicing one’s dharma or faith and finally the blessings of the Guru. After each part, the couple pays obeisance to the Guru Granth Sahib and circles (lavan) the Holy Book, signifying the union of the husband and wife and their journey together (this time it was Sikha who was clueless and had no idea what to do:) ). The ceremony was concluded by a ritual of special prayers: Ardaas ,Shukrana and Hukunama. 

:::The wedding is official over- now it’s time to eat (again;) ) and take pictures with the bride and groom…:::

after the wedding

After the Sikh wedding, we were served vegetarian lunch, next to the special booth were the smiley bride&groom were patiently taking pictures with every single family member.  After we got our turn, we hopped to the bus and went back home to change for sightseeing ( or for Singaporeans – shopping)

::: Singapore-family photo <3 :::

To finish-up, I can’t stress enough how amazing was to submerge into completely different world of Mumbai Weddings. The heat, the people, the food, the music but also- the magical, colorful, Indian-princess-like outfits were one-of-a-kind experience. So, to celebrate that, and because I could not decide which picture to choose, here are some more snaps of my amazing gold-blue saree that I borrowed from Nihar* (thank you Nihaaaaar!!!).

* No, Nihar does not secretly wear sarees- it was his moms. For anybody going to India that does not have Indian friends (yet), or if you are just curious what are the options, here’s an awesome portal to rent top Indian outfits : click! ( for men and women!)

::: My amazing saree with ‘impressed’ boys… ::: * after this we had to switch and do the same pose for them…:/::: …. Beishi :* :::

::: … Monika :* :::

::: … and the hotel’s balcony :* :::




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